Professor Sir Hilary Beckles
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Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is the Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies. Before assuming this office on May 1, 2015, he served the university as Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of its Cave Hill Campus in Barbados for thirteen years (2002-2015). He has had a distinguished career within the university becoming at age 36 its youngest scholar to be promoted to a personal chair. As Professor of Economic and Social History, he won the first Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the field of research. He is a distinguished University administrator, internationally reputed historian, an expert thinker and strategist in higher education.
Sir Hilary has had global recognition for his academic achievements and leadership expertise. He serves on many United Nations committees and advisory panels. He is a founding member of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Science Advisory Board on sustainable development, and has been an advisor to UNESCO’s International Cities of Peace programme. He has served as an advisor to the UN World Culture Report, the Vice President of UNESCO’s Slave Route Project and an Editor of the 9th volume of UNESCO’s General History of Africa Series which he conceptualised around the Global Africa framework.
In 2015, Sir Hilary was invited by the President of the UN General Assembly to deliver the feature address during the sitting in which 2015-2024 was declared the UN Decade for African Descendant People.
Sir Hilary received his higher education in the United Kingdom and graduated in 1976 with a BA (Hons) degree in Economic and Social History from Hull University, and a PhD from the same university in 1980. He has lectured extensively in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, and has published over 100 peer reviewed essays and 14 scholarly books and monographs on subjects ranging from Atlantic and Caribbean History, gender relations in the Caribbean, sport development and popular culture. These include: Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Societies (Randle Publishers,1999); The History of Barbados (Cambridge University Press, 2006); Natural Rebels: A Social History of Enslaved Black Women in the Caribbean (Rutgers University Press, 1989); Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Slavery and Native Genocide in the Caribbean (UWI Press); and The Development of West Indies Cricket: Volume 1: The Age of Nationalism; and Volume 2: The Age of Globalization (Pluto Press, 1999).
Sir Hilary has received numerous awards for his contributions: including the degree of Honorary Doctor of Letters from Brock University in Canada, the University of Glasgow in Scotland, his alma mater Hull University in England, the Kwame Nkrumah University for Science and Technology in Ghana; and the degree of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of the Virgin Islands. In 2007 he was awarded a Commander Knight of St. Andrew (KA), the highest national honour of his country, “in recognition of his distinguished service in the fields of education, sports and the arts”. More recently, in 2015 he was honoured by the Borough of Brooklyn, New York, for “extraordinary achievement, outstanding leadership, and contribution to the community”. In that year he was also the recipient of the Second Global Community Healer Award for humanitarian work from the Community Healer Network, Washington DC, following the legendary Maya Angelou. In 2016 he was bestowed the Sisserou Award of Honour from the Government of Dominica “in recognition of his contribution to the Commonwealth of Dominica and the region in the field of education”.
Sir Hilary also serves in multiple roles in the Caribbean private sector and is a longstanding director of Sagicor Financial Corporation - the largest, international financial services conglomerate in the region. He is a director of British telecom giant, Cable and Wireless and a former director of the West Indies Cricket Board, as well as the West Indies Cricket World Cup Inc. He also served as Chairman of The University of the West Indies Press. He is the founder and director of the CLR James Centre for Cricket Research, and was the founding director of the Sagicor West Indies Cricket Academy. He is currently Vice President of the Commonwealth Advisory Body of Sport and Development which advises Sport Ministers on the planning of the Commonwealth Games and Chairs of the Caribbean Examination Council as well as the Caribbean Commission on Reparations. He is also member of the United Nations Development Programme Advisory Panel for the Caribbean Human Development Report.
Finally, Sir Hilary is an accomplished playwright with six of his staged works receiving popular acclaim.
Updated February, 2017
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